Day 5: Patterdale to Shap

Patterdale to Shap: 17 Miles 
Bed & Breakfast: Overview Water
Start Time: 9:10 AM
Finish Time: 8:30 PM 

The Overview Water is a very charming B& B perched on the banks of a very charming river. I had gone down to the Patterdale village store to collect some things for tomorrow’s lunch when we arrived, including a piece of the Million Dollar Shortbread Julia Bradbury recommends in the BBC Coast to Coast documentary. Gabriel was so hungry though he ate the shortbread (shared with me) and then the crisps and peanuts I had bought for our traveling lunch. This walk takes a lot of energy.

We had dinner at the B & B with the Two Ladies, The Speedys, and The Navigators and we were disappointed to find out The Speedys and The Two Ladies would not be going all the way to Shap but would go a little less far into Bampton. As we would be saying goodbye we all had a grand meal together with a little wine and lots of laughter. 

The Patterdale to Shap stage is said to be the toughest stage on the Coast to Coast. Not because it has the most miles of any stage, but because of the terrain. As our guide book says, although you leave the Lake District today, it doesn’t give up without a fight. 

New friends!
Tim met us to say good-bye!

Starting just after 9 in the morning we began the long ascent out of Patterdale. As we neared the top of the first “leg” we found our friend Tim from yesterday waiting for us. He was going to walk another path that day but thought he’d hang around till we arrived to say goodbye. Gabriel had been half joking about taking the bus this stage but Tim was a great encouragement. He told Gabriel how good he’d feel after all of this, when we arrived in Robin Hood’s Bay. How, if he took a bus for a segment “you would always know you hadn’t quite done it.”. Gabriel, who liked Tim a lot, was motivated by the encounter. We said our final goodbyes to Tim and headed up the path. 

Lunch on the mountain!

When we reached Angle Tarn we caught up with The Speedys, and The Two Ladies and journeyed with them most of the day. We went together over The Knott, whose very name exudes a hikers challenge. From the Knott, we then ascended Kidsty Pike which is the highest point on the Coast to Coast route. The views were stunning so we all decided to have lunch there. 

The locals have all talked about the above average amount of rain and I must emphasize how much time we have to spend navigating rocks and other high ground options to avoid turning our walks into total mud baths. And although we had been blessed with good weather the previous two days, today the rain gear came on, came off…came on again etc. 

What goes up, must come down and so we began our descent down toward Haweswater Reservoir. I’m sure glad we picked up new walking sticks in Grasmere as our legs and knees took quite a pounding. This though, was where Gabriel shined. He seemed to prance like a gazelle out ahead of us as we older folk carefully made our way down. Nearly everyone looked at him out and then looked to me and said, “Ah, to be 14 again.” 

Drinks on the “honor system”

Finally things leveled off and we began walking around the reservoir which, despite first impressions, does not go on for ever. It was about this time we had to make a decision to leave our new friends. We were behind schedule for getting to Shap. It was already 5 o’clock and we had at least another 5 miles to go. They knew our dilemma and suggested we might want to move on, but I confessed Gabriel and I enjoyed their company so much, it was difficult. Finally though, we felt we needed to press on so we said good bye to The Speedys and The Two Ladies who now as friends had become Peter & Sally and Jo & Nealma. And if you read this, you sure made the beginning of our adventure memorable. 

Nearing Shap..getting lost!!

Once we left the reservoir (finally) we were out of the Lake District. The topography was now more of rolling hills than mountains. We hurried through wood and pasture until we got lost going through a field. The path just up and disappeared and I realized we made a wrong turn. We pressed on using our compass to try to find our way to get back on track. We trudged through waist high (wet) brush, through water, and mud -our feet all but soaked now. We hopped a stone wall fence and headed toward a farm house thinking their driveway must be connected to some sort of road. If we could get on to a road, we could get our bearings.

As we approached the house I was nervous some farmer was going to come at us with a shot gun. I kept my Coast to Coast guide book in my hand as an alternative to a “white flag” …just a couple of dumb, lost Americans.

No one was around though and we slipped down their driveway onto a small road which dropped us right near the path we were meant to be on.

We trudged on past the ruins of Shap Abbey. A fence we passed by had a basket of soda with a money box. A sign said that a nice farmer wanted to provide you with a refreshing drink after that long hard stage. Just put 1 pound in the “honor system” box and help yourself. Gabriel was floored that a system like that worked… We dropped our money in the box and helped ourselves to two refreshing cold drinks.

We finally trudged into Dhap and the Brookfield House B & B where Margaret the landlady took our muddy rainwear and threw it in the wash, and set out our boots to dry. She then made tea for us in the drawing room where we were pleased to find our friends The Navigators, who had arrived about 30 minutes before us.

…tomorrow we have 21 miles to go to Kirkby Stephen.

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About Steve Hackman

This is a blog of my son Gabriel and I's travels across England on the Wainwright Coast to Coast walk. I'm a 45 year old American living in Hong Kong and Gabriel is a 14 year old high school student. This is a father - son adventure I'd been planning since before Gabriel was born.